Being A Biracial Child Means Seeing The World Through Two Different Lenses

Being A Biracial Child Means Seeing The World Through Two Different Lenses

"You get the best of both worlds."

A goal of mine when I joined Odyssey was to be the person who showed the world the voices of the community around me. Every time I have done an interview, it is because there is something about the people I have interviewed that others do not know. And this interview is an addition to the collection of stories I've had the amazing privilege to tell. I love reading about different perspectives, but I haven't seen too many pieces that display the perspective of a mixed child. I have seen statistics and facts, but neither of those compare to the voice of a person with a story about her life as a multiracial child. My friend Sarah* is someone whose voice deserves to be heard by the world, and I could not thank her enough for being such a wonderful friend and for doing this interview.

Please note that the person's name has been changed*, and the person pictured in the cover photo is not the same person who was interviewed. Also, any text within brackets has been changed for clarity or grammar purposes.

Has being biracial ever been a problem for you?

"Being biracial has opened my eyes to new cultures and has helped me experience diversity in the world. Although being multiracial has opened my eyes, it can be at times hard because it's sometimes difficult to relate to other people.

"A problem that I have faced as a mixed person is representation in general society. For example, there are not a lot of role models that I can look up to that are of my same races. There are people that I look up to that are of one of my races, [but they are] never of both. Fortunately, we live in an open-minded world (for the most part), and almost everyone that I know does not judge me based on my ethnicities.

"However, my parents, being a multiracial couple, have been judged because of the fact that they are not of the same race. [Once] they asked someone to take a picture of them, and he refused to, solely due to the fact that they were of different ethnicities."

What are the benefits of being multiracial?

"I come from two very diverse and rich cultural backgrounds, and both my direct and extended family members have taught me many interesting things about my history, which has enabled me to be more aware and open-minded. I have immense respect for everything that my grandparents on both sides have gone through to raise my parents, who then raised me. I love hearing stories from both families, whether [they] be influential historical events or unique traditions. When I was younger, for special events like family reunions, I got to wear traditional clothing, and it was interesting to see the differences [between] the said clothing and what I usually wore.

"I get to travel to my different homelands. For example, I got to go out of the country for the first time a while back to visit my extended family, and it was an incredible experience that I won't forget. Not only did I feel enriched with new knowledge, but I also gained a better understanding of my roots."

Do you find any differences between being multiracial versus others of one race?

I wanted to ask her about a more specific topic, which was that certain mixed people have claimed to feel out-of-place when it comes to figuring out where they feel they belong. Fortunately, she replied that she doesn't feel the same way.

"I get to see the world through two different lenses. Diversity is a very big part of my life, and it has helped shaped me to become the person I am today, both figuratively and literally. I hope I can spread my cultural awareness to other people and absorb theirs as well to make me a better person.

"But for standardized tests and any forms that require me to fill out my race, I often find it difficult to decide which of my two ethnicities to put down. There's always the 'other' option, but at the same time, my ethnicities are both presented. It wouldn't make sense for me to put ['other'].

"I feel like the community and the people I've surrounded myself with are accepting of everyone, and I'm thankful that I haven't experienced discrimination or felt like I haven't belonged. I just hope that others like me feel the same way."

Cover Image Credit: Unsplash

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senselessly calling people 'nazis' is ignorant and disrespectful

Perpetuating the ignorant and disrespectful rhetoric of labeling anyone who disagrees with you politically a 'Nazi' creates a carbon copy of 'The Boy Who Cried Wolf,' or 'The Boy Who Cried 'Nazi.'


Throughout all of history, the United States is arguably the freest country of the entire world. With democracy engraved into every word of its foundational documents, the United States is a nation where essential freedoms are automatically granted to you, and one of which is freedom of speech. Essentially this basic freedom ensures that an individual has a right to say whatever he or she wants; however, there are certain restrictions. For example, the "You can't shout fire in a crowded theatre" implies that one's freedom of speech extends as far as possible until it negatively impacts, or harms, another individual.

Setting aside history and instances of what is permissible under the First Amendment, words are important. Communication is key to connecting with others and expressing yourself beyond the thoughts within your head and the ideologies that you believe in. With this in mind, people tend to say awful things. As I described earlier, their words may be legal under the First Amendment, but they could still be immoral and unjustifiable.

International Socialist Review

A prime example of a horrible word to call someone is a "Nazi". I do not mean that using the word in itself to describe members of the Nazi Party from Germany or Neo-Nazis is wrong because that is simply a matter of calling someone by definition what they are. What I mean is senselessly labeling someone a "Nazi" without tangible proof that they are or support Nazi ideology.

We see the word "Nazi" thrown carelessly all over social media. In the world of politics, "Nazis" or "Nazi Germany" seems to be the most common comparison I hear to any sort of injustice or inequity that people express. And while these critics have every right to call people "Nazis", I have noticed that senselessly calling someone who disagrees with you a "Nazi" is both ignorant and disrespectful.

Let's start with ignorance. It is fair to assume that many people who are quick to call someone a "Nazi" possess very little or poor understanding of Nazi Germany; it is more reasonable to assume that those same people probably cannot correctly define fascism. Shouldn't you know what a fascist is before you go on a Twitter rant about how America is turning into Nazi Germany? I have seen too many instances where one compares someone else to a "Nazi" yet never mentions proof or a historically accurate comparison to actual historical events.

Lucky for those who forgot learning about World War II in their high-school American History class, they can flock to the library, search Amazon, or even pull up Google on their computers to re-educate themselves on what Nazi Germany actually was rather than what they think it was like.

Along with searching the Internet for factual information, visit a museum. The Holocaust Museum in Washington D.C. contains the most heart-wrenching and intellectually stimulating exhibits that detail the rise of Nazi Germany to the Holocaust to the establishment of Israel after World War II. As someone who has visited this museum, I remember leaving in complete silence; both my heart and my mind were emotionally changed as I walked throughout the museum in memoriam of the victims of this horrific time in history.

Additionally, the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial Museum in Israel is one of the most emotional places I have ever been to. Not only do the exhibits there inform you with knowledge but also provide emotional testimonies from actual Holocaust survivors, which leave you in a mindful state of reverence as you leave.

Time Out

Moreover, if you really want to know what a "Nazi" is, what the "Nazis" did, and feel the weight of their utter barbarism, visit a concentration camp. Nearly two years ago, I walked through the gates of Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration, or death, camp, and writing this even gives me goosebumps. I cannot explain what I felt like as I walked the perimeter of the camp, overlooking the foundations of the barracks, witnessing the remnants of the gas chambers, seeing the barbed wires that used to trap prisoners within its haunting walls. I cannot put into words what it feels like to walk the perky, rock ground in my sneakers, knowing that millions of people were forced to walk barefoot in this same exact spot. Although this thought still sends chills down my spine, I know that visiting Auschwitz-Birkenau gave me a sort of mindfulness about what "Nazis" are and how they treated people.

Juliana Cosenza

With that mindfulness, I knew that throwing around the word "Nazi" like some childish insult was disrespectful to those who actually experienced Nazi Germany in their lifetime. Think about the Holocaust survivors, about the Holocaust victims, about those who experienced Nazi Germany through their own eyes. While the number of people who actually experienced fascism in Germany decreasing every year, we cannot forget their stories. While respecting the survivors and remembering the victims, we need to realize, as a society, that common comparisons to Nazi Germany are not only disrespectful to them but also inappropriate. "Nazi" should not be our go-to response to something we disagree with. Swastikas should not be symbols that are commonly drawn and referenced to. Holocaust jokes are not something that we should ever think as comedic.

If people keep calling each other "Nazis", how will we be able to know when an actual Neo-Nazi or another awful totalitarian dictator comes to power on our global stage? Perpetuating the ignorant and disrespectful rhetoric of labeling anyone who disagrees with you politically a "Nazi" creates a carbon copy of "The Boy Who Cried Wolf", or "The Boy Who Cried 'Nazi'"

While freedom of speech is a necessary privilege, it is also important to utilize that privilege correctly and respectfully. By becoming mindful, in a sense maybe even "woke", about the historical background about the rise of fascism, Nazi Germany, and the effects of the Holocaust, maybe we can begin to have intellectual conversations about these serious topics rather than assuming anyone who disagrees with you is a "Nazi".

Cover Image Credit:

Juliana Cosenza

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